Tuesday, November 4, 2008

30-Day Walking Planner

"Walking is easy, convenient, and inexpensive-all you need is a good pair of shoes"
Nearly anybody can do it at any skill level-from Grandma to the kids. You can do it almost anywhere, anytime. Plus, it has the lowest dropout rate and injury rate of all exercise programs."

And for you exercise dropouts, it doesn't take much. "Just 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of dying prematurely and of developing numerous chronic diseases and it will help control your weight, build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, reduce your risk of falls, and boost your mood."

So step out on the right foot with this 30-day plan to walk your way to health. Try a tip a day to build walking into your life.

Prevention’s 30 Perfect Steps in 30 Days

1. Make the commitment. Sign and post this contract in a prominent place: I, , have decided to begin a walking program and stick with it!
2. Buy shoes! Get a pair of comfortable walking shoes, being sure to allow 1/2 inch (or the width of your index finger) between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
3. Adopt a "bottoms-up" mentality. Always look for ways to add steps into your day. Use the bathroom on another floor, and climb stairs to get there. Recharge a sluggish brain by going on a quick "walk-about" during a work break.
4. Build some extra hoof time into your day. Park in the farthest lot, or get off your bus or train a stop early, and walk the rest of the way.
5. Buddy up. Enlist a friend or family member to walk with you, and start out slowly-with as little as 5 minutes daily. Add 5 more minutes each week.
6. Check foot form. Be sure you land on your heel, roll your foot from heel to toe, then push off forcefully with your toes.
7. Reward yourself for a week of walking with a relaxing footbath and massage. Some of our favorites are The Natural Bath Shop's spearmint foot soak and foot lotion and Dr. Scholl's Pedicure Essentials Foot Bath Salts and Peppermint Foot & Leg Lotion.
8. Start at the end. Reverse your usual walking route, beginning where you usually end.
9. Shop aerobically. Walk a brisk lap or two around the market or mall before beginning to shop.
10. Talk yourself into it. Have a daily, positive walking affirmation to repeat to yourself, such as "Walking makes me look and feel great" or "Walking helps me think creatively."
11. Turn downtime into uptime. Take a 2-minute walk during TV commercials, while your computer is booting up, or when waiting for the copy machine. Fifteen 2-minute walks per day add up to fulfill the surgeon general's exercise prescription!
12. Faster, faster. Take quicker — not longer — steps, letting your stride length come naturally. Remember, you'll burn more calories as you increase your walking speed.
13. Consider it your patriotic duty to walk today. If the more than 88 million inactive Americans started taking a daily walk, we'd save more than $76 billion per year in medical costs.
14. Celebrate 2 weeks of walking by finding an interesting, new place to walk. Get ideas from a local walking club, your city's department of parks and recreation, or the proprietors of a good athletic shoe store.
15. Stretch it out. Warm up first by walking slowly for about 5 minutes. Then spend about 5
minutes stretching at the end of your walk.
16. Save some bucks.
Your walks can boost your bank account as well as your health. On average, inactive Americans spend approximately $330 a year more on health care expenses than their more active counterparts.
17. Swing 'em, don't wing 'em. For a speed boost, bend your elbows to 90 degrees, and let your hands swing in an arc from your waistband to chest height. Pump your arms up and down; don't "chicken wing" them across your body.
18. Do an "out-back." Walk out your door for 15 minutes (or 5, 10, 20, etc.), then turn around, and walk back.
19. Bet your life. Make a friendly wager with someone — or yourself — that you'll meet your walking goals. If you fail, vow to send money to an organization you dislike.
20. Let a dog dog your steps. Dogs are enthusiastic walking partners, though they do like to stop at every bush. If you don't have a dog, borrow the neighbor's.
21. After 3 weeks of walking, congratulate yourself with a treat, such as a pedicure or a massage from a professional.
22. Walk, don't wait. Whenever you have to wait-for a restaurant table, doctor's appointment, child's music lesson, or soccer practice-don't just sit there, walk! (Let the receptionist know you'll be circling the block, checking in at each lap.)
23. Try some phone-y moves. Take your cell phone so you can do aerobic phoning by walking as you talk.
24. Take to the hills. For a more strenuous workout-and greater calorie burn-walk some hills. Even a moderate grade can significantly boost your energy expenditure.
25. Walk out a problem. Stuck for an idea? Pondering over a predicament? Get your creativity flowing with a brainstorming walk-be sure to bring along a pencil and paper, or even better, a mini-tape recorder!
26. Shine your headlights. Counter the tendency to have round-shouldered posture by imagining there's a headlight in your breastbone: Shine it forward, not down on the ground, and look to the horizon.
27. Count on it. A good goal is to take 130 steps per minute, which is a walking pace of about 4 mph – terrific for a cardiorespiratory workout. It takes roughly 2,000 steps to walk a mile. Use a pedometer to count your steps – you’ll be surprised how quickly they add up!
28. Commemorate finishing your fourth week. Celebrate your walking by having a walking date with a loved one or good friend — or go dancing instead! Treat yourself to a movie or dinner afterward.
29. Add a little travelin' music. Or hear a book. Take your MP3 player to accompany your walk with music, news, or podcasts. If you're outdoors, be careful to keep one ear free to hear sounds around you.
30. Take a grateful walk. Stop the negative self-talk, and instead, dedicate today's walk to being thankful. Instead of thinking "my thighs are too big," be grateful for the strong, healthy thighs that support your walk.
Don't Stop Now
If you've walked most every day since signing your contract, you're well on your way to making it a habit. To stay motivated, pick a goal to strive for, such as walking a 5-K or 10-K charity race or taking a walking vacation in an exciting locale.

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